Today was my first full day of being 29. I felt older, but it might have had more to do with the seven celebratory birthday cocktails I downed last night. I spent the day wandering the hectic street markets in Hanoi and being harassed by locals trying to sell everything from pineapples to bootleg CDs to fake Gucci bags.
Vendors grabbed my arm, shoving wares in my face and yelling, “Madame, you need headband/cashews/fill-in-the-blank? Special price for you!” The “special price” means I’ll be charged the tourist rate that is 400 times more than the locals pay. I was so tired that I barely reacted when yet another woman pushed into me hard. It turns out, she was using a razor to cut a hole through my handbag to steal my wallet. Luckily, I pulled my bag away just in time as she disappeared into the crowd.
Shaking with relief (note to self: NEVER carry all your credit cards on you at once), I headed back to my hotel to find this beautiful bouquet of flowers—a late birthday present from the sweet staff. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: For every person who tries to rip me off, there’s another ready with a random act of kindness.